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Summary

The migrant Diederik Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius was studied on a 72–acre area near the Klein Jukskei River near Johannesburg from 1955–1958. The birds first arrive in early October, after which the males take up territories and call continually until February; subsequent calls up to April are probably made by young birds.

Courtship displays, which involve courtship feeding, and egg-laying follow the birds' arrival by about a month. The Red Bishop Euplectes orix was the species most commonly parasitized, with smaller equal numbers of Cape Sparrows Passer melanurus and Masked Weavers Ploceus velatus. The cuckoos' eggs differ according to the host species and in two cases hatched between ten and 14 days after laying. The chicks normally evict their hosts' offspring on the second or third day after hatching. The fledging period appears to be roughly 19–20 days, and there is a period of post-fledging care lasting between 17 and 38 days, during which the chicks are fed different foods by different host species (grass seeds by bishops; insects of different sizes by weavers and sparrows).

The fact that the eggs and the calls of the chicks vary according to their host species suggest the existence of three separate host-specific strains in this area. The incidence of brood parasitism in Red Bishops' nests varied from 7–50% and averaged 25%.